Going on vacation is something we usually look forward to, but travel can present its own challenges, and unfamiliar activities can leave you sore, achy, tired, or even sick. Luckily, there are simple ways to treat most common travel-related complaints. A natural medicine chest filled with just a few herbs can help you enjoy the trip.
Ginger has been used for centuries to treat stomach problems in general, and in the past 25 years, science has documented its benefits for motion sickness specifically. One study tested the herb on 80 naval cadets who were unaccustomed to sailing the high seas. Compared to a dummy pill, 1 gram of ginger was effective in reducing nausea, cold sweats, vomiting, and dizziness. Ginger is available in pills, tinctures, teas, and chewables. Peppermint extract or tea is another traditional motion sickness remedy.
A disruption of the body's natural rhythms due to crossing time zones. Depending on which direction you're flying, jet lag can be mitigated with energizing herbs if you need a little boost to stay awake, or calming herbs if you need to relax and get some sleep.
Feverfew, commonly used for migraines, contains the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin-in smaller quantities than those found in melatonin supplements-and is included in some herbal jet-lag formulas. Ginseng supports the adrenal glands, which helps with energy production and stress reduction, and stimulates natural production of melatonin at night, which helps to restore sleep patterns. Chamomile is a gentle, relaxing sedative that's safe even for children. It enhances restful sleep and helps with digestion, which is often disrupted by odd schedules and strange foods when traveling. Pack some chamomile tea bags for your trip, and brew a nice hot cup 30-40 minutes before bedtime.
Aches and Pains
Hiking, biking, climbing, or even long rides in the car can leave you sore. For joints, curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory herb that works quickly to reduce pain, especially in a form that is designed to be quickly absorbed, such as Theracurmin, available in a variety of brands.
For sore muscles, arnica gel, rubbed on before intense activity such as a long bike ride, can prevent soreness. Afterward, arnica gel can relieve soreness and help muscles heal. Arnica gel is not designed to be used on broken skin.
Mishaps can occur during vacation activities-falling off a bike, tripping on a trail, or losing control of unfamiliar equipment such as a jet ski or dune buggy. If in doubt as to the severity of the injury, always get medical attention.
To treat minor injuries yourself, arnica can be taken internally as a homeopathic remedy. It reduces swelling and bruising and decreases the effects of trauma, which helps the body heal. To speed recovery further, apply arnica gel on sore or bruised areas (but not on open wounds). To heal skin abrasions, use a calendula cream or ointment on the injured area.
Sunburn and Other Skin Irritation
Aloe vera gel is a tried and tested remedy for sunburn and other types of skin irritation, including itching from insect bites and rashes from poison ivy. Gently washing irritated skin with chamomile tea, brewed and then cooled, is another soothing treatment.
A. VogelArnica Rub is an herbal formula made from fresh organically grown Arnica montana extract.
Herbs Etc. Deep Sleep 10 Ct. Travel Pack features a proprietary blend of herbs, including chamomile.
SolarayGinger Trips Chewable Wafers are naturally sweetened and can be used 1-4 times daily.
Better Nutrition contributing editor, Vera Tweed has been writing about nutrition, fitness, and healthy living since 1997. She specializes in covering research that empowers people to lead better lives.
More Ways to Avoid Motion Sickness
Most common among children, motion sickness can often be reduced by:
- Sitting in the front, rather than the back of a car.
- Keeping eyes on the horizon.
- On a ship, staying on the deck.
- On an airplane, sitting closer to the front.
- Good ventilation.
- On an airplane, turning on the overhead air vent and pointing it toward your face.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Eating small, light meals-rather than large, heavy ones-the day before and during travel.
- Keeping your head still by resting it on a seat back.